51% of Dutch-Moroccans back pro-migrant, Islamist Denk party

Voters with immigration backgrounds are choosing a party that has traditionally supported Turkey’s Islamist leader

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: John Cody
Farid Azarkan, party leader of Denk, addresses parliament in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, April 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

According to a new poll, More than half of the Dutch-Moroccan contingent across the Netherlands would back the Denk party, known for its support for Islamist Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, promotion of mass migration, and lobbying for Muslim issues.

The poll, conducted by Het Opiniehuis research company in collaboration with de Kantreken, found that 51 percent of Dutch-Moroccan respondents intend to vote for the pro-migrant, Islamist Denk party, with many impressed by the Dutch-Moroccan politician Farid Azarkan at the head of the party (PvdA).

“As a Dutch-Moroccan, he knows how to bind this group more easily,” political researcher Aziz El Kaddouri explained. “Moreover, with the decline of [party founder] Tunahan Kuzu and the departure of Selcuk Öztürk, Turkish themes such as the Armenian Genocide and President Erdoğan have become less important within Denk,” he added.

Both Kuzu and Öztürk were the founders of the party after they were expelled from the Labour Party (PvdA) in 2014. The pro-migrant party is known for its support for the Turkish community in the Netherlands, support for Erdoğan, and its previous active denial of the Armenian Genocide. Turks make up the largest immigrant community in the Netherlands, amounting to approximately 500,000 people and accounting for around 50 percent of Muslims.

The party has proposed that imams be present in hospitals, schools and in the military, and that a “racism register” be made to identify anyone deemed to be “racist.”

In many European countries with a large Turkish population, support for Erdoğan is widespread, such as in Germany where many German Turks can still vote in Turkish elections. A whopping 65 percent of German Turks voted for hardline Islamist Erdoğan, which is higher than the share of votes he received in his own country.

Previous attempts to build Muslim parties in the Netherlands have produced little results, in part due to differing interest from Muslims of different national origins. However, Turkish influence on the party is waning to some degree, and this has attracted support from other Muslim groups such as Moroccans.

For the Moroccan diaspora in the Netherlands, other factors play a role in their voting intentions, according to political scientist Floris Vermeulen from the University of Amsterdam.

“They feel that a strong vote against government policies as well as against the PVV (Party for Freedom), and the anti-Islam discourse is needed, as these are still very influential in the Netherlands,” he noted.

The poll revealed that populist parties, such as the Forum voor Democratie (Forum for Democracy), ​​Partij voor de Vrijheid (Party for Freedom), Juiste Antwoord 21 (Right Answer 21), Belang van Nederland (Interest of the Netherlands), Leefbaar Rotterdam, and the Moss/Hart Group for The Hague, will also receive votes from the Dutch population with an immigrant background.

“For example, 5 percent of Dutch-Moroccan respondents indicate that they will vote for the Forum for Democracy,” Vermeulen added.

Indeed, “the anti-migration and anti-Islam message of Thierry Baudet from the Forum for Democracy is less pronounced than in 2018, which is why the party is now doing better among Surinamese and Dutch of Moroccan origin than before,” explained Aziz El Kaddouri.

Dutch people were interviewed for this research between March 7 and 13. Respondents comprised of 712 Turks, 743 Moroccans, 681 Surinamese, and 531 West Indians.

The Dutch headed to the polls on March 15 to elect their municipal councilors for the next four years.

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